An interview with Petr Dub by Hynek Látal (Intersurveys/Collection of AJG 1300 – 2017)
You’ve come with the idea of this year’s intervention by yourself. Can you briefly describe what inspired you?
There were many impulses. First, I am interested in the general state of art institutions in our country (their organizational background, program and physical operation), and secondly, Meziprůzkumy meant for me a new interest in events held in regional galleries of the AJG type. After visiting the exhibition two years ago I naturally kept thinking about the setting up of the Riding School in relation to the neighbouring tourist attraction – the castle Hluboká. In addition, since I have been thinking about this relatively long I had the opportunity to extend its meaning to current political vibe.
And how much is the cleaning up of the title related to the state of the institution? Or have you ever had the feeling that AJG needs to be cleaned up or do you feel that regional galleries are all in the same state. But I’m not saying that everyone is in a bad state. Why that distinctive inscription with the name? What attracted you to it?
I certainly do not criticise AJG. I have the impression that most domestic institutions are struggling with the definition of exhibition standards and possible superstructures, but I certainly do not think that the problems are all about the money. I’ve been keeping this custom for years. Every time I go to an exhibition in the Trade Fair Palace, I head out from the cash desk to the Rodin’s statue of Balzac and I try with my finger how much dust is on it. It has never happened that I would not be soiled – regardless of the people in the NG leadership. And the cleaning up of the inscription above the Riding School door is a bit a similar gesture …
At the very entrance to the gallery, I was fascinated by the fact how retrograde and insignificant the entrance is, which is the result of the fact that the crowds of tourists are passing through the local castle without notice. But of course, this is just one of the details of a complex situation. Additionally, the inscription above the entrance to the gallery is exceptional in its language composition – Alšova jihočeská galérie. Uses all possible self-determination attributes. Alšova; jiho; česká; galérie – and, moreover, with a regional accent that was certainly linguistically behind the zenith at the time of the inscription installation.
Let’s stay with that inscription and its cleaning up process. In the first phase you uncovered the word “galérie”, how will it go on? Do you have a firm plan, a concept, or is it open and you would not want to give it away?
The whole thing is moving around the concept of “home blindness,” when we often do not see our daily reality or, on the contrary, politicize it according to current needs. In the first sequence, I am interested in the self-determination of the institution as a place for art – the gallery, a place where everything is institutionalized as art. Performance should, however, have multiple layers and continue throughout the exhibition as a “fluid interpretation”.
Let us now return to the exhibition Meziprůzkumy itself, which you mentioned above and in which context your intervention should also be perceived. I do not want you to flatter me or Martin, but do you feel like it could be a guide for expositions in other Czech exhibition institutions or is it too specific by the location or the character of the AJG collection?
I think this topic is very interesting and it hangs in the air. Personally, as an artist, I quite fairly solve the fact that beside the creation of the meaning of art, its production also means the accumulation of thousands of objects, which, by placing them in the warehouse, become dead artefacts. In our socio-cultural reality, there is a huge gap between our cultural legacy and the way to make full use of it, because we live in a time when we do not seem to need a high culture in general. For me, Meziprůzkumy is a strong bridge between the reflection of the past and the ability to program the questions of presence. Besides, I’m an installation fetishist, and your way of working is fun to me even from the formal perspective.
I am pleased that even though you do not have such a domestic, local patriotic relationship as we do, you have chosen the same approach as we, you wanted to show up, or build on the “old glory” of AJG. It would be great if your intervention eventually brings a positive effect for the gallery and would attract those who would come from the tour of the castle, or just go to the winter garden. We also want to cooperate more with the new management of the castle in the future. So how do you see the connection of the castle- with the gallery in the future …?
The gallery for me is, was and will be a lab, no matter if it is Brno, Prague, London or New York. Contemporary art is a sign language with global significance, and in this respect, it does not matter where it takes place. Another is the position of the viewer. The postmodern practically expelled the audience from their own universe and closed itself into a collusive dialogue. But it does not change the fact that without a viewer, art is a shabby and quite a vain discipline. In contrast to the beginning of this answer, however, I am convinced that it is necessary to search for local formats and solutions. I realize that this is a general statement, but I am short of universal rules of the game for the AJG situation. In addition, in the context of your question, I realize that in the context of the domestic art scene, I often wonder whether it is “only” inadequately elite or quite simply xenophobic intolerant to the outside word?